Medications that reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach don’t seem to be associated with a higher incidence of osteoporotic fractures, according to new research.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which are commonly used to treat heartburn, acid reflux and ulcers, have been linked with potentially serious side effects including a possible increased risk of bone fractures.
However, in a new study, researchers found that PPI use was not associated with increased fracture risk — regardless of the dose or how long patients took the medicines.
The study involved 521 patients with Barrett’s oesophagus, a long-term complication of acid reflux in which the cells of the oesophagus grow abnormally. The condition is treated with high doses of PPI for prolonged periods.
“Patients with Barrett’s oesophagus represent a unique population for studying the association between PPI use and osteoporosis-related fractures, due to their treatment with long-term and high-dose acid suppressive therapy with PPIs to control reflux,” the authors of the study explained.
Among the study participants, the incidence of all fractures and osteoporotic fractures was comparable to that of an age- and gender-matched population. PPI use, dose or duration of use was not associated with the risk of osteoporotic fracture.
In other words, people who took high doses of PPIs for prolonged periods were no more likely to have bone fractures or evidence of bone thinning (osteopenia or osteoporosis) than people in the general population.
Independent risk factors for osteoporotic fractures included older age, female gender and higher co-morbidity index, the researchers said.
The findings have been published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics.